"My Heart is in the Highlands"

For our second and last extended travel weekend we took a house trip to the Highlands of Scotland. The Highlands are what most people think of when they think of Scotland: mountains, rugged, not very populated. After traveling this area for four days I know why Robert Burns wrote a poem confessing that his heart is in the highlands.

Gabby, Hannah M., and I at Glencoe

Our trip started with a short stop in Stirling to pick up our Scotland: Society and Globalization professor, who would be our "tour guide" for the weekend. It was then off to Doune Castle (where parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed) before heading into the Highlands. We stopped in the beautiful Glencoe and had an opportunity to take a wee hike before we headed to our hostel. Our youth hostel was at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles. We explored the river at the base of the mountain before watching the sunset and calling it a night.

Glenfinnan Viaduct
 The next morning we were off to Glenfinnan to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The rail bridge is most known as the bridge that the Hogwarts Express travels on in the Harry Potter movies, especially the second one. Our next stop was Loch Ness! We took a cruise on the Loch and some students even took a dip in the freezing water! A quick stop at the Corrimony Chambered Cairn (an ancient Celtic burial site) was next. It was then time to explore Urquhart Castle in the snow and sleet. Urquhart Castle used to be quite an impressive castle on the banks of Loch Ness, but the owners blew it up so it wouldn't fall into the Jacobite's hands during the Jacobite Risings. Needless to the say, the castle is now in ruins. Our final stop for the day was our hostel in Inverness.
Wading in Loch Ness
Saturday morning saw us at Culloden Battlefield for a visit and tour. Culloden was the last battle fought on British soil and it was a kind of civil war. This blog is too short to go into the details behind the battle, but it was basically fought between the Jacobites and the British government. It was a rather horrific massacre with the Jacobites losing 1,500 lives and the British losing 50. After the battlefield we headed back into Inverness and had the afternoon to explore the "capital of the highlands." A group of us students took a walking tour of the city, then walked along the River Ness.  We ended our day listening to a live band in a traditional Scottish pub.

Sunday, our final day in the highlands. Fort George was our first stop. We walked around the fort, looked for dolphins in the Moray Firth, and I got seagull poop on my sleeve. I got ice cream at our next stop, Pitlochry, for a pick-me-up. Gabby and I tried our first taste of whisky after our tour of the Aberfeldy Distillery.

The Hermitage

Our final stop (and in my opinion, the most impressive stop of the day) was the Hermitage nature area. We walked through a forest of tall pine trees, along a river, until we came to spectacular waterfalls. We all enjoyed exploring and climbing on the rocks in the water. We only spent an hour there, but I could have easily stayed all day.

We then got stuck in construction traffic for roughly one hour before making it back home to Dalkeith House.


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